Joshimath-Like Crisis: Villagers Protest Against Hydel ProjectFeb 22, 2023 | Pratirodh Bureau
Residents of 14 villages of Darma valley in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh have risen in protest against a proposed 165 MW hydro-electricity project in the area fearing that its construction will push them into the throes of a Joshimath-like crisis.
Shouting slogans, the residents of these villages staged a long procession on Monday evening and submitted a memorandum to the SDM, demanding immediate scrapping of the Bokang-Bailing hydro-electricity project.
It is a 165 MW run-of-the-river scheme proposed in Dhauli Ganga river in Darma valley. To be constructed by the THDC, it is in survey stage at present.
“If it gets constructed, at least five villages including Tidang, Dhakar, Goo, Philam and Bon will have to be shifted as they will develop cracks like the ones in Joshimath,” said Puran Singh Gwal, president of Darma Sangharsh Samiti, the body that organised the protect march.
“Explosives that will be used to make the large tunnels of the project will damage the foundations of the villages,” he said. The project will also destroy the culture of the Rung tribe protected for centuries by the residents of these villages, he said.
Opposing mega projects in the Himalayan region as they cause irreparable damage to its fragile ecology, Gwal said subsidence-hit Joshimath is a burning example of this.
“On the one hand, the government asks people to settle in border regions and on the other hand, creates circumstances which make the process difficult by introducing landslide generating projects in highly sensitive Himalayan valleys.” said Anju Rongkali, state president of Gram Pradhan Sangathan, and a local resident.
Besides the Darma Sangharsh Samiti, Gram Pradhan Sangathan from Vyas, Chaudas, all Zilla Panchayat and BDC members and the Dharchula Vyapar Sangh took part in the protest, claimed the organisers.
“Darma valley is well known for its glaciers — the source of rivers like the Dhauli Ganga. After explosives are used to construct tunnels and the dam of the project, the precious glaciers will be depleted due to disturbance of ecological pattern,” Roop Singh Titiyal, a villager from Darma valley said.
The Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, which is spearheading an agitation in the subsidence-hit town, has been alleging that the NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project has led to this kind of situation there.
Meanwhile, a disaster management control room will be set up and a Border Roads Organisation team deployed in subsidence-hit Joshimath to ensure smooth conduct of the pilgrimage to Badrinath.
Joshimath, the gateway to famous pilgrimage sites like Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib and international skiing destination Auli, appears on the edge of a precipice with gaping cracks appearing on buildings, roads and public facilities.
The orders were issued on Tuesday by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, who chaired a meeting in Dehradun to discuss preparations for the Char Dham Yatra.
A Border Roads Organisation (BRO) team will be stationed in Joshimath to monitor the yatra on a day-to-day basis and ensure immediate treatment of cracks on roads or any other problem that might arise, the chief minister said.
The Char Dham Yatra will commence with the opening of the portals of the Gangotri and the Yamunotri temples on April 22. The Kedarnath portal will open on April 25 and that of Badrinath on April 27.